Friday, August 13, 2010

By Beth McHoul

This is why you should consider giving to the Gwo Cheve Challenge:


It's near to 11:00 PM and most people are home in bed.  In my exaggerated thinking of the moment I feel like only scoundrels and midwives are out in Haiti this time of night.  Here I am doing another transport after a 24 hour labor and delivery effort that ended in no delivery.    When a c/section looms our choices are limited.  The small hospital with no doctor or the huge hospital with few doctors and hundreds of women.  I chose the latter.

Carline is 18, single, sweet and eager to please.  Although exhausted she responded to our every suggestion and was totally cooperative for two full days.  She sat defeated when we explained our findings  but she understood only one thing - we meant transport.  She cried.  We cried.

In the rainy dark we loaded up my car.  Two guards, one grandma, a nurse, a cousin, the mom-to-be and me.  Off we went.  The empty streets were full of puddles, trash and the occasional group of people brave enough to be out this late.  I speed past Cite Soleil.  I enjoy the speed, the lack of traffic jam, the empty streets.  I hate the reason I am on them.

I've been to this hospital twice before, I am prepared.  I've even made an acquaintance of  one of the doctors shaking my head in understanding as he told me how overcrowded they are.  I can see that.
If I thought last time was crowded tonight seemed doubled.   Laboring women were everywhere.  On benches, lying on the floor, on beds, walking about, yelling, crying, screaming and moaning.   Every hallway had laboring women on the floor.  Blood spots here and there.  Trash all around.  The new doctor I meet tells me yes, he agrees, our gal probably will need a c/section but she has to wait in line.  There are several before her.  I'm now moaning along with the laboring women.

I'm filled with disappointment, guilt and frustration as I leave this teenager here.  Due to government legalities I am not allowed to stay and help.  My heart is sick.  The doctor doesn't want one more patient and I don't want to leave our patient here.

We drive home in silence.    Once again I am defeated by the inability to provide a woman with a safe birth.    A woman we have cared for for months.  She knows us, she trusts us, she believed we would help her through this birth experience and now I find that we are not able to finish the job.  We are a maternity center and not a hospital.  We can only handle normal births.  Explain this to a frightened 18 year old who is staring at the multitude of swollen bellies, sweat, urine, vomit, blood and amniotic fluid all around her.

We clean up our fluids quickly, we give Gatorade with a straw, we wipe foreheads with cool cloths, we hug, we check on baby and mom continuously.  Not so in this hospital for the poor.

I'm not blaming the overworked staff.  The residents are doing their jobs under terrible circumstances. Foreign groups are making huge efforts at the free hospitals to make a difference.

It is not enough.  The conditions are like out of an old horror movie but it is all too real.  Too real for Carline.  Too real for all the women that have to go there because they don't have money to go anywhere else.  Somehow they come out with a baby.  Most of the time.

This is not acceptable for our transports.  The women entrusted to our care should not end up in overcrowded hospitals with broken equipment and filthy conditions if they need more care than we can give.

Heartline is committed to building a 20 bed hospital.  We need safe deliveries, safe surgeries and quality postpartum care.  Every transport nightmare reinforces to me how important this is.   Just ask Carline.
Beth McHoul